The political elite of Azerbaijan has operated for two years a $2.8 billion secret fund, largely used to buy the “sympathy” of European politicians, suggests an investigation conducted by the OCCRP.
The money would have been transferred with the help of some UK front companies but there are no suggestions that all the recipients were aware of the origin of the financial route.
The secret fund, dubbed by the intelligence services as the “Azerbaijan Laundromat” investigation, would have been active for two years until 2014, and even if the provenance of the money is still unclear, there are “ample pieces of evidence of links with President Ilham Aliyev’s family.
According to the investigation, at the time the financial scheme had taken place, in the former Soviet oil-rich state, corruption scandals, electoral frauds, abuses, imprisonment of opposition politicians and human rights activists were all in full swing.
Most funds would have reached the pockets of various lobbyists, journalists, politicians and business people in Europe.
The OCCRP notes that the inflated amounts would have been used, for example, to convince the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to vote against a critical report about Azerbaijan in 2013.
Currently, the 2013 vote is subject to an investigation that will be finalized by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, all branch companies of those British companies were dissolved.
Regarding the incredible sums, they would have been processed by Danske Bank, Denmark, through their subsidiary from Estonia.
The investigation says bank managers admit they did not make enough effort to trace suspicious transactions.